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THE IMPERATIVES OF TEACHING MORAL EDUCATION IN OUR SCHOOLS

I have heard many people say in this country that, ever since the missionary schools were handed over to the government had immorality and other forms of vices entered our schools and by extension, our larger society. Some had even blamed our secular constitution; saying is the grandfather of immorality in the country! But, how our secular constitution which was drafted in a way that reflected our socio-cultural and religious diversity, contributed to the alarming rate of immorality in the country is what I don't understand! Does the body of our law prevent anyone from doing what is right? The truth is that our constitution and other sacred books remains written documents and banded notes until the messages they contain are lived out or applied by their adherents!

At this year's church service in Abuja to commemorate the 14 years of uninterrupted democratic practice in the country, the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) decided to take the deadly bull by the horn, by announcing its decision to embark on one year campaign project on value and moral restoration in Nigeria. The theme of the campaign is “Be the change you want to see”. The apex body overseeing the affairs of Christians in the country further stated that, the campaign was to complement the prayer for Nigeria project it had initiated and embarked on in 2012. Such campaign for moral rebirth had long been expected by all religious organizations and institutions in the country considering the exponential rates at which immoralities and other forms of unethical practices have almost become the Lords of the country, ambushing the dreams of our founding fathers from becoming the realities their children and grand children live with!

We need moral education in our schools, communities and the societies at large! Imagine that in some secondary schools, students now know what secret society is all about! But, ask some of them who are the leaders of tomorrow to quote a verse from the Holy Bible or Holy Quran, they will be moping at you! Ignorance of our sacred books is ignorance of God.

Similarly, some years ago, it was reported in some of our national dailies; how some students who failed the West African Senior School Certificate Examinations embarked on a violent protest in one of the North Central States, destroying and burning school properties, while some went after the school principal and teachers wrongly perceived to be instrumental to their failures. If it were in the past, how dare a student threaten his or her school principal? But because we have lost the moral foundations of our society, we now live a life of anything goes! Like a nation in search of role models, our pupils and students now look up to some of the morally bankrupt actors and actresses or celebrities in the Nollywood or music industry as people worthy of emulating! What a shame? I will visit this topic next time.

Also, most of the times, those boys are exposed to negative influences as a result of what they watch in our home videos. Most of them don't understand that what they watch are acted for a particular purpose, even to teach and impact moral lessons on people, but, because there is a communication theory called “Cultivation Theory”, people tend to take what they view on screen, hook, line and sinker. But then, practitioners in the entertainment industry should be more imaginative.

However, on May 16 this year, while addressing the new ambassadors of Kyrgyzstan, Antigua and Barbuda, Luxembourg and Botswana, posted to the Holy See, Pope Francis urged them to help reform the world's economic order along “ethical line”, saying money has to serve, not to rule. The Holy Father said: “We have created new idols; the ancient worship of the golden calf has found a new and ruthless image in fetishism of money and the dictatorship of the economy without purpose nor truly human face”. “It reduces man to one of its demands… the human being is today considered as a commodity that you can use and then throw away”. The Pope also said, “Wanting power and possession has become limitless… the selfish sprawling of corruption and tax evasion have gone global… the joy of living is decreasing, indecency and violence are on the rise, and poverty is becoming more evident”, but, the Holy father according to Catholic News Agency called for “a return to the unselfish solidarity and ethics in favour of man in financial and economic reality”.

Nigeria is in dire need of moral renewal today! Our constitution does not forbid the teaching of morality, but, the imposition of one's religious belief on another! Infact, section 23 of the 1999 Constitution as amended says: “The national ethics shall be Discipline, Integrity, Dignity of Labour, Social Justice, Religious Tolerance, Self Respect and Patriotism”. It is moral renewal that will end corruption in the country. It is moral renewal that will restore the sanctity of life in our society. Sometimes, I doubt if the youths of today ever have human blood running in them, especially when I see some of them display the animalistic traits in them!

Since no faith or religion condones immorality and other forms of vices rearing their ugly heads in the county, the move by the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) to embark on campaign for moral restoration in the country is most welcomed! I enjoin other faith based organizations to take similar initiative to save the country from what it is passing through today! We can collectively reclaim the dreams of a better Nigeria which our founding fathers entrusted to our care through moral regeneration!

Comrade Edwin Ekene Uhara is an activist and a public affairs commentator. He is also the National President of Young Nigerians for Change.

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